During the meeting of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland in Glasgow yesterday, Scotland's Catholic Bishops, meeting for the last time before the expected General Election, issued the following statement: "The forthcoming election provides an important opportunity for all Catholics to play a part in shaping the values which will direct the political activity of the UK Parliament and Government. All citizens concerned with the Common Good of society must take their democratic responsibilities seriously and participate in the electoral process. Their participation however should be informed and in the case of Catholic voters guided by the teachings of the Church. In this regard, we highlight the following issues as being of fundamental importance and ask Catholics to question candidates on them: RIGHT TO LIFE: While new threats to life continue to emerge in the form of embryonic research, human cloning and 'assisted dying' legislation we remain utterly opposed to the appalling practice of abortion. Each and every human life is worthy of respect and legal protection from its very beginnings. We seek an end to legislation that permits this practice and remain supportive of amendments that limit its effects. This would include reductions in the legal time limit for abortions. FREEDOM FROM POVERTY: We live in a time of grave international tension where poverty exists at home and abroad on a dehumanising level. Though most in our society have benefited from economic prosperity, many remain excluded. Meanwhile in other countries we see poverty and hunger on an appalling scale. We have a duty, founded in love and solidarity with our fellow citizens and the citizens of the world to ensure that all have the opportunity to share in the goods of the earth and the prosperity that human work has created. In a world where a child dies every 3 seconds and over 100 million children do not go to school we urge all political parties to accept a binding commitment to meet the 0.7% of gross national income as aid target by 2010. In the UK, international aid is currently only half this figure. The funding of debt relief should be additional to our aid commitment and should not have economic policy conditions attached other than those which ensure transparency and good financial accounting. PROMOTION OF EUROPEAN HARMONY We see European cooperation as a sign of hope for increased international solidarity between nations and peoples. Such solidarity is good for society and the world at large. We hope Europe does not become detached from its ethical and historical origins founded on Christian beliefs and ideals. The political processes of the European Union must be increasingly responsive and transparent in order that its institutions receive the support and endorsement of Europe's citizens." Source: Scottish Catholic Media Office
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